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Government Order Review of UK's Immigration System

on Friday, 28 July 2017.

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to carry out a detailed analysis of migration from the European Economic Area (EEA)...

... to help inform the government's plans for a post-Brexit immigration system. The MAC - a non-departmental public body that advises the government on migration issues - has also been asked to look at the role of migration in the wider economy and society.

Previous MAC reports have generally been focussed rather more narrowly, such as on teacher and nursing shortages, or salary thresholds in the Tier 2 categories, so such an extensive review will undoubtedly be far more challenging. However, the MAC have welcomed the commission confirming that they "are keen to work with stakeholders" to explore impacts of Brexit on the labour market and how the UK's immigration system should be "aligned with a modern industrial strategy".

The Home Secretary has asked the MAC to look at EEA migration across different sectors, regions, skill levels and patterns of work (eg self-employment, entrepreneurs, agency, temporary and seasonal).

While both the Home Secretary's commission and the MAC's initial response appear to focus on the labour market impacts of Brexit and immigration, the commission also asks the MAC to consider:

  • all aspects of current patterns of EEA migration
  • possible future trends in EEA migration (absent new immigration controls)
  • the economic and social costs and benefits of EEA migration
  • the potential impact of any future reductions in EEA migration across the economy and society

Therefore, the migration impacts of Brexit upon other parts of the economy, for example, education providers and home builders, will also need to be considered.

In considering the role of the UK immigration system within the context of a modern industrial strategy, the MAC will look at:

  • the impact of immigration by both EEA and non-EEA nationals on the competitiveness of UK industry
  • the impact on skills and training
  • whether economic migration policy should be focussed on highly skilled jobs or across the entire skills spectrum
  • whether skills shortages in lower skilled jobs should be included on the shortage occupation list

It is therefore very likely that evidence will be sought from employers and organisations not normally associated with employment of EEA nationals.

There has been criticism from some quarters that a review such as this should have been commissioned either before or immediately after the referendum. The MAC have asked to deliver their report by September 2018, some six months before the 2-year Article 50 process ends. They have agreed to consider producing interim responses to support policy development. Putting any criticisms to one side though, this is a useful opportunity for organisations in all sectors to have a say on the future of the UK's immigration policy.

In response to the commission, the MAC have confirmed that they will produce a call for evidence "in the next few weeks" and that they will engage with business, trade unions and other interested parties. Anyone interested in having a say should keep a close eye on the MAC's website where the call for evidence will be made available.

We will continue to monitor the situation and are considering ways to assist as many of our clients and contacts as possible in having their voices heard.


If you are interested in participating in this important consultation, or require more information, please contact Tom Brett Young in our Immigration team on 0121 227 3759.

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